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Disgruntled Developers Tell Town to Take This Land and Buy It!

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It's never easy getting something built in New York, as any developer who has run the gauntlet of community reviews can tell you. But it's been a particularly tough go for the developers that bought the Reader's Digest headquarters in Chappaqua back in 2004. A deal that came with 114 acres of juicy Westchester County land ripe for development?or so they thought. The plans, which included hundreds of new housing units, seemed like a tall order back in 2004, and several rejected versions and $69 million later, the developers are throwing in the towel. So what now? This is America, baby. Sue!

Summit Development and Greenfield Partners filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court demanding that the town of New Castle (which includes the tony enclave of Chappaqua) buy the property from them, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The town has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of approving any of our applications," their lawyer says. When a two-day "vision session" was held to solicit the public's input on what should be built on the land, most wanted the site turned into a garden. The developers allege that the town opposes "affordable" housing and is promoting discrimination, which is not an usual charge when it comes to Westchester housing.

The town supervisor says the plans were rejected because of requests to change some commercial zoning to allow for more homes (common complaints have been that more housing will overload Chappaqua's schools and roads), and denies the discrimination charges. While it seems like a long shot that a court would force the town to buy the land, would that be the ultimate developer's revenge against NIMBYs?
· Chappaqua at a Crossing [WSJ]